If any of you know me personally, you’ll know that I often respond to inquiries of “How are you?” in the same way.
I’ll pause, introspect for a moment, then with a wry smile – and maybe a yawn – I’ll answer, “I’m tired.”
Oftentimes whoever asked that question will respond with a laugh and echo my sentiment, and then the conversation moves on as normal, completely overlooking the fact that I haven’t said anything about how I actually am.
Those of you who know me know that I struggle with depression, and that sometimes it gets the better of me. On those days, “tired” takes on a completely different meaning.
“I’m tired…” of having to peel myself out of bed in the morning.
“I’m tired…” of using dry shampoo since I haven’t had the energy to shower in several days.
“I’m tired…” of plastering a smile on my face whenever I see someone so they don’t see the crushing emptiness that threatens to consume me.
Yeah. I am tired. And sometimes it just means I didn’t get enough sleep. But all too often, it can mean that I feel as if I’m losing my fight.
I’m tired of having to fight my own brain every single day. I’m tired of people belittling my mental illness by saying “Oh yeah, I get sad too.” Or, “You shouldn’t be on meds – you can do something more natural. Like yoga! Or meditation! Or exercise! Or deep breathing or regulating your sleep schedule or thinking good thoughts or refusing to think negatively or eating more fruit or or or or or OR.”
I’m tired of crying myself to sleep at night. I’m tired of sleeping for ten hours and still not feeling rested. I’m tired of thinking that death would be easier than having to wake up the next morning and continue on.
I’m tired of my brain trying to kill me.
I hide behind a laugh and the words “I’m tired” because I don’t want to tell people the truth. People don’t want to hear responses like “I’ve felt numb for a week”, “It took me three hours to get out of bed this morning”, “I can’t shake a crushing sadness that has no cause.” Or at least, I don’t want to give them, because I don’t like people to see me suffering.
But that’s become a problem for me. I’ve realized that in my quest to keep up the illusion of strength, I’ve locked knowledge of myself away from the people who care about me. By hiding behind a quick smile, sharp tongue, and ready laugh – I’ve concealed myself from people who care about me. My own best friend, just last week, found out what my favorite flavor of ice cream is. And something that insignificant isn’t even worth hiding – so why did it take me three years to tell her?
I’m trying to challenge myself to be more open, and let people in. Because shutting myself off from other people may protect me from harm – but it also leaves me feeling more alone than ever.
I won’t change overnight. So next time you hear me say, “I’m tired” now at least you know why.
Note: my favorite flavor of ice cream is Raspberry Sorbet.